The DWP’s latest statistics on managed migration to universal credit (UC) showed that almost one in seven claimants had their legacy benefits claims closed and did not complete a claim for UC, potentially losing hundreds of pounds a month. The DWP have offered no explanation for this, but elsewhere a coroner’s court and a secret report have shed light on the department’s failure to support UC claimants.
The statistics show that between July 2022 and August 2023:
- a total of 117,690 individuals in 117,190 households have been sent migration notices
- a total of 61,130 of these individuals who were sent migration notices have made a claim to Universal Credit
- of those who have claimed Universal Credit, 39,920 households have been awarded transitional protection
- a total of 40,540 of individuals who were sent migration notices are still going through the Move to UC process
- a total of 16,020 of individuals who were sent migration notices have had their legacy benefit claims closed
The majority of claimants sent migration notice in this period were single tax credit households. Most ESA claimants are not expected to be subject to managed migration until 2028.
The DWP appear to have made no effort to find out why claimants would willingly lose hundreds of pounds a month in income by failing to complete the migration process. In some cases this may have been a conscious choice.
However, evidence that not everyone can cope with the process of claiming UC is mounting.
Last week, a coroner issued a prevention of future deaths report after a disabled claimant took their own life because they found the UC claims system too hard to manage.
Kevin Davis had a long history of depression and anxiety. A psychiatrist who worked with Kevin believed his anxiety had been made worse by the stress of the UC application.
The coroner has written to the DWP warning of the dangers of the long and complex forms that have to be completed which “can be overwhelming for someone with a mental health illness”, the lack of help to complete them and the long waits to speak to a telephone adviser.
DNS has also obtained a copy of a report about the difficulty of claiming UC, which the DWP have fought to keep secret for four years.
The “How Effective is Support for Vulnerable Universal Credit Claimants?” report was created by the Prime Minister’s Implementation Unit in 2019 but never published. The DWP had to be forced by a court this month to reveal its contents.
The report concludes that the design of universal credit “is inadequate for vulnerable groups” who therefore need extra help from staff through adjustments and specialist support.
Sadly that support is seldom available.
With hundreds of thousands of disabled claimants required to undertake managed migration in the future, the DWP’s lack of interest in the barriers claimants face is deeply worrying.